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Question for Mr P

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Mr P - I wonder if you can help?

 

My friend (no, not me) has a 1-man band IT support company.  He is also a contractor as his main job.

Tax/VAT registered blah blah blah in a Limited company.

 

He 'acquired' some software for his 3D printer and has used it to play and create stuff.  He hasn't sold any of it and has not made any financial gain or loss from this, as it's a hobby.  He has made stuff from his own use - like a projector ceiling mount, little boxes and stuff.

 

The company whose software it is, have contacted him and asked him for payment and threatenedhim with court.  The software costs £3K.

 

He has had some preliminary contact with a 'specialist' law firm found on the web, and naturally they have been quite vague with how they can help and a likely outcome.  However, they have said they will charge him £360 + VAT, IF it's an easy case.  More if it gets more complicated.  However, he still might have to pay the £3K if they are not playing AND then the fees on top.

 

We chatted about this and I wondered about him writing in, with pictures of his home 3D £300 printer and in the letter to put something about him, his company and that he has not had any financial gain from it.  Even to show them how much 'ink' he has bought and used?  Also, include a cheque for £300 or £400 to cover inconvenience etc etc?   Maybe even a copy of last years company accounts to show it is a small concern and that they have not lost any revenue. 

 

Do you think this is a good idea?  Anything else to add to the letter if so?

If not, what would you suggest?

 

Thanks!!!  IF you want more info etc, PM me.

Thanks again.

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Tough one.  The fact that he's not made a profit out of using it doesn't excuse him.  He's installed and used the software, he hasn't got a licence (I assume), so that's kind of it - he's infringed the copyright.  In a sense he has made a profit, because he's had the benefit of the software and not had to pay for it.  Equally, they have made a loss, because someone has used their software without having to pay for it. 

 

His best bet is to come clean - apologise, say how he got the software and that he didn't realise it was proprietary, wouldn't have installed it if he'd realised as it is beyond his means etc, point out that he hasn't used it for his business only for his hobby, ask if they have a "home & student" rate for the software, and so on.  He might have to offer to uninstall the software and pay a lower licence fee to cover his limited period of use but not to cover ongoing use.

 

As regards the solicitor, there isn't a huge amount they can do as he's bang to rights.  They may be good at the negotiation side, depending on how eloquent he is.  If he can't string a coherent sentence together then he's probably better off getting them to do so instead and that may result in a lower overall bill.  However, as there aren't any obvious legal defences (based on what you say) then if he's good with words then he may as well have a go and see if he can make progress. 

 

One point - I'd be inclined to call them rather than write back.  Partly so that there's nothing in writing, but mainly because he can put them on the spot and get into a two-way negotiation, reacting to what they say imediately rather than by return of email.  Provided he sounds sincere, of course... +++

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How did they find out he had the software?

I remember a case with Ministry of Sound where they contacted ISPs for anyone who had downloaded certain albums and speculatively invoiced the users. IIRC many people paid up (I believe it was £2-300 not £3k) for fear of "court reprisals" but ultimately there was no proof that the bill-payer for the connection was guilty/liable.

Edited by eldavo69

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****ing annoys me when people steal my stuff. As a dev (well, I used to be :P ) stealing my work and using it for your own gain is just beyond rude. It's stealing my effort, time, knowledge, and education. Pah, well, it doesn't make any difference to me right? I mean I write for corps, not individuals? Sure, I get some of that argument. Start using it to be productive and sell stuff? No, I wish everything you're wearing catches fire. You're thieving, pure and simple. Making gains from Other. People's. Work.

 

 

I used to build in 'check home' stuff in to a lot of custom software I wrote. The was nothing malicious in it - as a self-employed dev at the time I wanted to know before my customers that something wasn't right. Contractually now I'd probably be on dodgy ground with that I'm guessing? Anyways, I started getting reports in from a certain London Borough - from some 11 *thousand* incidents of MY software that I'd written for an NHS Trust. 

 

Can you imagine how annoying that was? Also, do you want to imagine how much they denied any of this until I sent them evidence...? That little incident bought my M3. 

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And yet people on this very forum think nothing of streaming TV shows not yet available in this country, same thing isn't it?

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Kinda, yes.

 

Personally I think I'm an 'ethical' downloader. With media or s/w I'll often download it to make sure it's what I want - if it is, I'll pay for it. 

 

I'd honestly be pretty surprised if I had stuff that wasn't licensed properly. I'm sure if you looked hard enough you'd find something, but that would be through laziness, not purpose.

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Incidentally Tipex - here's an interesting comparison. People ask me to fix their computers all the time. I honestly don't mind that much, as usually the problems aren't that taxing and I'll do them while waiting for H to finish her dance class or something.

 

I'm guessing you don't get people ringing you up thinking as you're a cab driver you wouldn't mind giving them a lift somewhere, and as you're a mate, for free? Also, could you pick me and all my drunk mates up and drop us home about 02:00 please? Ta. 

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I'm guessing you don't get people ringing you up thinking as you're a cab driver you wouldn't mind giving them a lift somewhere, and as you're a mate, for free? Also, could you pick me and all my drunk mates up and drop us home about 02:00 please? Ta.

Ha! Your joking, people do it all the time.

Not so much now I haven't worked in the evening/night for a good few years, but people still do.

Friends, family, acquaintances, neighbours, all of them think nothing of calling me if they need to get anywhere, and because I'm such a soft touch, I usually do if I'm not already busy.

And it's usually "how much will you want, you know, for ME?" Or "I've spent all my money, I'll owe you a pint, that's alright isn't it?"

Neighbours knock on the door, "any chance you could take us to the airport?" Or "we've noticed you always go the same way in the morning, don't suppose you could drop me/us off on your way past xxxx?"

With regards to illegal downloading, I'll admit I've done it in the past, but not since it became easier to download music legally than illegally, and even then, anything I downloaded when it was either illegal download, or buy the CD, I either deleted or purchased the CD if I liked it.

I don't think I've ever downloaded software illegally, I'm not really a consumer of software other than stuff that either came on the computer, or is available free anyway.

Edited by Tipex

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Does anybody download music any more?

Spotify got the business model right in my opinion - why bother with the risk and hassle when a relatively low monthly fee gets you everything you want with a nice interface too.

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Does anybody download music any more?

Spotify got the business model right in my opinion - why bother with the risk and hassle when a relatively low monthly fee gets you everything you want with a nice interface too.

 

Unfortunately, I think that is a classic example of presuming because of a peer group.

 

EldestMissMe uses Apple Music since I subscribed for the family.  Prior to that, it was Spotify.  However, a few months ago I was stunned to discovered that only 1 other person in her Uni class does the same - the rest of them are ripping music from all over the place.

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How did they find out he had the software?

 

 

It hink it was doing updates every now and then.  So sent his IP address each time.

 

Usually, if you want to hide stuff, you'd turn off the updates, so maybe that is another line of 'defence'!

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